Sam O'on Level and Panty O'on Stone, 200m NNE of Low Far Side


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017757

Date first listed: 24-Feb-1998


Ordnance survey map of Sam O'on Level and Panty O'on Stone, 200m NNE of Low Far Side
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Harrogate (District Authority)

Parish: Bewerley

National Grid Reference: SE 10982 64519


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Approximately 10,000 lead industry sites are estimated to survive in England, spanning nearly three millennia of mining history from the later Bronze Age (c.1000 BC) until the present day, though before the Roman period it is likely to have been on a small scale. Two hundred and fifty one lead industry sites, representing approximately 2.5% of the estimated national archaeological resource for the industry, have been identified as being of national importance. This selection of nationally important monuments, compiled and assessed through a comprehensive survey of the lead industry, is designed to represent the industry's chronological depth, technological breadth and regional diversity. The ore works were an essential part of a lead mining site, where the mixture of ore and waste rock extracted from the ground were separated (`dressed') to form a smeltable concentrate. The range of processes used can be summarised as: picking out of clean lumps of ore and waste; breaking down of lumps to smaller size (either by manual hammering or by mechanical crushing); sorting of broken material by size; separation of gravel sized material by shaking on a sieve in a tub of water (`jigging'); and separation of finer material by washing away the lighter waste in a current of water (`buddling'). The field remains of ore works include the remains of crushing devices, separating structures and tanks, tips of distinctive waste from the various processes, together with associated water supply and power installations, such as wheel pits and, more rarely, steam engine houses. Simple ore dressing devices had been developed by the 16th century, but the large majority of separate ore works sites date from the 18th and 19th centuries, during which period the technology used evolved rapidly. Ore works represent an essential stage in the production of metallic lead, an industry in which Britain was a world leader in the 18th and 19th centuries. Sites are common in all lead mining areas and a sample of the best preserved sites (covering the regional, chronological, and typological variety of the class) will merit protection.

The Panty O'on stone is unparalleled elsewhere, and the Sam O'on Level is a uniquely primitive and early example of a sough, or horizontal drainage tunnel. This drainage method became commonplace in lead mines from the 17th century. Although often similar in appearance to adits (mine entrances), soughs were driven solely for drainage; in the case of the Sam O'on Level the size of the tunnel clearly precludes any other use. To lower the water table in a mine, a sough would be driven from a lower contour in a neighbouring valley. Soughs are more common in Derbyshire, where topography favours such a method, and the location of the Sam O'on Level in the North Yorkshire orefield is unusual. The Panty O'on Stone and the Sam O'on Level will provide valuable technological evidence about early lead mining. They demonstrate the primitive technology that was employed to overcome problems of drainage and ore processing, and will contribute to an understanding of early ore processing techniques. In addition, buried remains will provide further information about the relationship between the two features.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument is situated on the north bank of the Gill Beck in Bewerley, 200m NNE of Low Far Side, and includes the earthworks, rock cut features and buried remains of the Sam O'on Level and the Panty O'on Stone. The Sam O'on Level is a very small sough or mine drainage tunnel, extremely primitive in execution, which is thought to drain a sequence of nearby lead-mining shafts whose alignment it follows. Overlooking the Gill Beck on its north side, the outlet is 0.3m square and certainly too small to have been used, as many tunnels were, for access to mines as well as drainage. Its simplicity and small size are thought to indicate a very early date in the lead-mining history of the region. A series of low shaft mounds on the west side of the Gill Beck, south of the level entrance, provide evidence of the mining activity associated with the level, and are included in the scheduling. The stone known variously as the Panty O'on Stone, Sam's Panty O'on or the Sam O'on Stone, is named for its resemblance to stone ovens (o'ons) once used in the area. It is a sub-rectangular boulder of sandstone grit, approximately 1.5m by 2m, which lies on a slope immediately south of the Sam O'on level. Out of this substantial block has been carved a circular hollow, some 0.7m deep and 1m in diameter, flat bottomed and pierced by a 0.4m wide opening of the same depth as the hollow. Carved graffiti include initials 'JL', 'SS' and 'JS' and the date 1886. The site lies within an area where Fountains Abbey held mining rights during the 13th and 14th centuries. An excavation in the early 1920s revealed pottery dating from around 1450-1600 AD beside the stone, and a layer of finely crushed fluorspar and calcite containing barytes pieces, downslope of the stone. From this evidence, and because of its proximity to the Sam O'on Level, it is concluded that the stone was used during medieval lead ore processing. Its precise function has been much debated. The carving of the hollow represents a considerable work, and its function evidently required it to be sturdy and resistant to a high degree of wear. It has been described as an early grinding mill operated by a rotary mechanism, as a 'stamps' for pounding and washing ore, or a large mortar for crushing ore. The association of the stone with early mining features and the discovery of medieval pottery around it indicate a function associated with lead mining. The stone and buried remains around it will provide further technological data and a fuller understanding of technology in the early stage of the lead mining industry. Modern field boundaries are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 30941

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
N M R S Records, , 'British Mining' in The Sam Oon Stone, , Vol. 55, (1995), 160

End of official listing